Family Affair Friday(ish): Season 2, Episode 30, “Family Portrait,” 4/8/1968

I hope all the Family Affair fans out there had a great holiday. As we end the year, we’ve also reached the end of the Season 2–whew! I feel like I’ve been recapping this season since 1968. Although this isn’t a holiday episode, it has a warm family feeling that seems appropriate at this time of year.

Written by: John McGreevey. Directed by: Charles Barton.

When we look in on Uncle Bill, he’s packing to return home after a trip to Nigeria. After a brief time in New York, he’ll be heading off to either India or Iran. (He pronounces the latter country eye-ran, with the emphasis on the first syllable.)

He pauses to look at the kids' portrait that he has kept near him on his two-month trip.

He pauses to look at the kids’ portrait that he has kept near him on his two-month trip.

Yikes, two months? Don’t you wonder how much he pays French to provide 24/7 childcare for months at a time?

Bill's co-worker reminds him to take along "Toothy"--an absolutely horrifying souvenir for the kids.

Bill’s co-worker reminds him to take along “Toothy”–an absolutely horrifying souvenir for the kids.

French takes the arrival of Toothy better than I would.

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He jokes that he once had a headmaster with “the same insincere smile.” Love those Frenchisms!

Meanwhile, Bill catches up on all he’s missed in two months.

He tells a puzzled Cissy that she looks different. Eventually, he figures out that her hair is different than it looks in the portrait he's been carrying.

He tells a puzzled Cissy that she looks different. Eventually, he figures out that her hair is different than it looks in the portrait he’s been carrying.

Duh, Uncle Bill. That photo is from early Season 1.

Bill also learns that the twins have gone through mumps, they’ve spent a weekend in the Berkshires with French, and Jody’s friend Pete has moved away. (Hmm–is this Peter, Miss Faversham’s charge?)

Also, Buffy's front teeth have finally come in.

Also, Buffy’s front teeth have finally come in.

Bill seems unhappy about missing so much time with the kids.

The next day, as he sends an associate off to Brazil, he announces his decision to stop traveling.

The next day, as he sends an associate off to Brazil, he announces his decision to stop traveling.

His colleague isn’t especially supportive, asking “You, a full-time father?”

The kids are happy to hear Bill's news, though.

The kids are happy to hear Bill’s news, though.

Buffy and Jody start preparing a list of things they want Bill to do with them. Buffy wants to visit the Statue of Liberty. (Fun fact: Mrs. Beasley is very patriotic.) Jody wants to visit a big swamp in “someplace called New Jersey.” They both want to ride the subway all day.

Only one person is underwhelmed by Bill's news.

Only one person is underwhelmed by Bill’s news.

French is especially put out when Bill takes over one of his rituals–reading Winnie the Pooh to the twins.

This is a really cute scene.

This is a really cute scene, French’s discomfort notwithstanding.

In our next scene, we meet Bill’s girlfriend-of-the-week.

Unlike some of the bimbos he brings home, Eileen is great with kids.

Unlike some of the bimbos he brings home, Eileen is great with kids.

When Jody can’t shake hands because he has a splinter in his finger, Eileen takes it out.

Oddly, you get the feeling that if Eileen hadn't come along, no one would have taken it out.

Oddly, you get the feeling that if Eileen hadn’t come along, no one would have bothered to take it out.

She also chides Uncle Bill for not taking the “underprivileged” kids to a drive-in movie, and she suggests that they all plan a picnic together.

She even gives Buffy fashion advice, convincing her that her dress would have a better line if its belt was removed.

She even gives Buffy fashion advice, convincing her that her dress would have a better line if its belt was removed.

Speaking of fashion, Cissy’s orange shift is really cute from the back, with a deep cut-out V.

I have to apologize now–due to a glitch with this DVD, I was not able to get screen captures for the rest of the episode. This is the same file location on the disc that gave me problems with Episode 27. Hopefully, as we move on to a new disc next week, this issue won’t come up again.

Soon, we see that Bill is taking his role as a hands-on parent seriously. He’s taking the twins to school, joining a PTA committee, and urging Cissy to consult him when she makes decisions, even though the decision she made on her own–buying a typewriter with her allowance–is perfectly sensible.

Bill tells French to take it easy while the family is on its picnic with Eileen. French pouts that he’s had too much free time recently. When Bills says he’s just trying to give the kids “the kind of life an ordinary family has,” French wonders if there is a place for him in a ordinary family. (I know one ordinary family that could definitely use him–he could start in the bathroom that I’m due to clean after I finish this recap.)

On the picnic, Jody argues with an obnoxious kid who doesn’t believe his uncle was a globe-trotting bridge-builder. Bill tells the boy that he used to do that kind of work, but now he works in an office. Eileen notices that Bill seems unhappy with his current role and tells him that he should stop trying to be the ideal father. “There’s no such animal,” she says, pointing out that the ideal father for Johnny Smith isn’t the ideal father for Jody Davis.

Bill takes her words to heart. When he returns home and learns that his colleague is having trouble in Brazil, he’s ready to hop on the next plane. He tells the kids that he’ll miss them, but he’ll be happy doing the work he does best. The kids say they’ll be fine as long as they have French. We close the episode with French back in his natural role as Winnie-the-Pooh narrator.

Commentary

Though Family Affair is thought of as a traditional comedy, episodes like this have a progressive message about they many different family structures that can work for kids.

Guest Cast

Eileen Moran: Pippa Scott. Tyler: Ed Deemer. Miss Lee: Betty Lynn. Ward Halsey: John Milford. Boy: Eddie Rosson.

Pippa Scott had roles in a few 1950s movies, including The Searchers and Auntie Mame, but her career mostly revolved around appearances on TV and the New York stage.

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Spin Again Sunday: Wow Pillow Fight Game for Girls, 1964

After a brief hiatus, Spin Again Sunday is back with a game that’s absolutely adorable. It’s also simple and safe, according to the box. Since one sort of expects a board game to be safe, perhaps its manufacturers are comparing it to a real pillow fight–we all know what bloodbaths those are.

wow box

This Week’s Game: Wow Pillow Fight Game for Girls. (It wouldn’t be proper to expose a boy to this game–the game pieces are wearing their PJs.)

Manufacturer: Milton Bradley.

Copyright Date: 1964. With unusual specificity, Milton Bradley notes that it holds the copyright “under Berne and Universal Copyright Conventions.”

Recommended Ages: 5 to 12.

 wow board

Game Board: The board itself is simple, with pink stripes on one side and blue stripes on the other. Each side includes four rows of circles and a single circle near the center of the board.

Players erect a divider, styled like a bedroom wall, between the board’s two sides.

I love all the cute room decor details.

I love all the cute room decor details.

Game Pieces: Each player gets a set of six slumber party guests as pawns.

wow girls

Each player also gets one “house mother.”

House mother? So these girls are in boarding school or something? I guess it's better than calling her Grandma, since we'll be hurling pillows at her.

House mother? So these girls are in boarding school or something? I guess it’s better than calling her Grandma, since we’ll be hurling pillows at her.

Game pieces also include little pink and blue beds. Each player uses the bed that matches her side of the board.

wow bedsThe beds are actually little catapults for propelling pillows across the divider.

See how pushing down on the lever makes the mattress spring up? Unfortunately, my game came without a key game piece--the actual pillows. My daughter and I substituted cotton balls when we played the game.

See how pushing down on the lever makes the mattress spring up? Unfortunately, my game came without a key element–the actual pillows.

Game Play: Players assemble their girls in the row at the board’s edge. The house mothers stand on the central circles near the divider.

Each player gets a spinner. On her turn, it tells her how many pillows she can hurl across the wall. It also offers chances to move her girls forward or backward on the board, or to steal an opponent's girl.

Each player gets a spinner. On her turn, it tells her how many pillows she can hurl across the wall. It also offers chances to move her girls forward or backward on the board, or to steal an opponent’s girl.

The game object, of course, is to wipe out the other player’s entire team. The house mother has to be the last one standing–even if she is hit, she stays in the game until all the girls are gone. Then it’s open season on old ladies.

My Thoughts: This game is such a great mixture of cuteness and aggressiveness that it seems perfect for tween-age girls. I’m surprised that it didn’t become a girl-game classic. A better name might have helped.

Since my daughter is in the game’s target age range, I asked her to offer a review, too:

“Wow Pillow Fight is a very good and cute game. It is very detailed. Sometimes it can be kind of hard to hit the girls with the ‘pillows.’ The game company it is made by is Milton Bradley. We got ours off of Ebay. We used cotton balls as the pillows because ours did not come with pillows. I was the winner of the game–yay, me. I would give it 3 stars.”

Family Affair Friday: Season 2, Episode 29, “The Baby Sitters,” 4/1/1968

This week in Davis-land, Uncle Bill is dealing with a bridge collapse. No, it’s not an engineering emergency–it’s a dental emergency.

This episode is a gold mine for fans of Brian Keith head rubs.

This episode is a gold mine for fans of Brian Keith head rubs.

Bill also has an evening meeting to attend and a plane to catch for Hong Kong soon after. He refuses to see any dentist but his regular one, who has gone out for the evening.

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To add insult to injury, his suitcase handle breaks, which means French has to scurry out to get it repaired.

Luckily, Cissy is at home to watch the twins, since Bill must leave for his meeting.

All Cissy has to do is tuck the kids in bed. As she says, "What could possibly happen in an hour?"

All Cissy has to do is tuck the kids in bed. As she says, “What could possibly happen in an hour?”

Oh, dear.

Cissy's bedtime story--involving Mrs. Beasley's adventures on the subway--is soon interrupted by a knock at the door.

Cissy’s bedtime story–in which Mrs. Beasley navigates “the wilds of New York City” on the subway–is soon interrupted by a knock at the door.

It’s Cissy’s boyfriend Danny with tickets for a concert that’s about to start.

Who's playing? The Velvet Vultures, of course.

Who’s playing? The Velvet Vultures, of course.

But Cissy can’t leave the twins.

"Sometimes, we're a problem," Jody observes.

“Sometimes, we’re a problem,” Jody observes.

Cissy quickly decides that she just needs to find a responsible babysitter.

It's unclear whether Sharon is responsible, but at least she's nearby.

It’s debatable whether Sharon is responsible, but at least she’s nearby.

When Sharon arrives, Jody convinces her to give the twins milk and cookies with their bedtime story.

She starts to tell them a story about Mrs. Beasley getting a new mini-skirt. When Jody objects, she sends the doll on a more exciting African safari adventure.

She starts to tell them a story about Mrs. Beasley getting a new mini-skirt. When Jody objects, she sends the doll on a more exciting African safari adventure.

Meanwhile, Bill is still suffering and unable to reach his dentist, Dr. Perry.

I can only imagine how thrilled most dentists would be to get called at home to perform emergency work.

I can only imagine how thrilled most dentists would be to get called at home to perform emergency evening work.

Soon, the twins notice that Sharon’s not looking well, either.

In fact, it looks like someone attacked her face with a bingo dauber.

In fact, it looks like someone attacked her face with a bingo dauber.

Alarmed, Sharon calls her mother, who insists that Sharon come home right away. Mrs. James hurries to the Davis apartment to take over babysitting.

You might recall that when we first met Sharon, she was "between mothers." If this is a new stepmother, it's a very caring and conscientious one.

You might recall that when we first met Sharon, she was “between mothers.” If Mrs. James is a new stepmother, she’s a caring and conscientious one.

With a new babysitter on hand, the twins are ready for a new bedtime story–and, at Jody’s urging, more milk and cookies.

Mrs. James' story is pretty lame. It has something to do with Mrs. Beasley wanting to visit her grandchildren in Florida.

Mrs. James’ story is pretty lame, though. It has something to do with Mrs. Beasley wanting to visit her grandchildren in Florida.

Apparently, her worry about Sharon is distracting her. She decides that she needs to be with her daughter, so she tracks her husband down at his poker game–which he promptly relocates to the Davis apartment.

The guy on the left is Sharon's dad, who's attracted so many wives. He must have a really well paying job.

The guy on the left is Sharon’s dad, who’s attracted so many wives. He must have a really well paying job.

In a disappointing turn, we don’t get to hear what these guys would come up with for a Mrs. Beasley bedtime story. Jody does prevail on them to break out some snacks, though. While he’s in the kitchen with one of the poker players, Bill returns home.

He's a wee bit surprised to find a houseful of strangers.

He’s a wee bit surprised to find a houseful of strangers.

As it turns out, though, one of them is not a stranger. The one helping Jody gather snacks is none other than Bill’s dentist.

The guy helping Jody find snacks is none other than Bill's dentist, Dr. Perry.

Oh, there you are, Dr. Perry.

When French returns, the poker players are leaving, and Bill and Dr. Perry are headed for the dental clinic.

Cissy shows up just in time to get a stern look from her uncle.

Cissy shows up just in time to get a stern look from her uncle.

When Bill returns from his appointment, Cissy successfully talks her way out of trouble.

After all, if she hadn't abandoned her post, she wouldn't have launched the chain of events that led Bill to Dr. Perry.

After all, if she hadn’t abandoned her post, she wouldn’t have launched the chain of events that led Bill to Dr. Perry.

So all’s well that ends well–except for Jody.

The little glutton has a well deserved stomachache.

The little glutton has a well deserved stomachache.

Commentary

This episode executes its circular plot pretty well. I like the various Mrs. Beasley stories, especially Cissy’s, which reveals the twins’ familiarity with little details of urban life. (The story takes place on the Woodlawn-Jerome line.)

Because Jody is usually so good, I enjoy seeing his manipulative side emerge here, as he tricks each successive babysitter into providing treats.

Random amusing screen capture. Can anyone think of a good caption for this?

Random amusing screen capture. Can anyone think of a good caption for this?

Guest Cast

Sharon: Sherry Alberoni. Mrs. James: Doris Singleton. Mr. James: Walter Sande. Dr. Perry: Carleton Young. Danny: Dennis Olivieri. Tom: Barry Brooks. Jim: Bert D. Whaley. Bob: Dick Winslow. Mr. Chung: James Hong. Mr. Lin: Allen Jung.

Doris Singleton was a busy actress during the radio era. Lucille Ball, with whom she’d worked in radio, chose her for a recurring role as Caroline Appleby on I Love Lucy. Singleton also made appearances on Ball’s subsequent series.  On Don Fedderson’s My Three Sons, she played Polly’s mother during the Chip-and-Polly-elopement arc.

Hong still has an active career, which has recently included voicing Mr. Ping in both Kung Fu Panda movies and the TV series. Interestingly, in light of his role in this episode, he studied civil engineering in college and worked briefly as an engineer before taking up acting.

Sande had a recurring role as Papa Holstrum on the TV series The Farmer’s Daughter.

This is the second of three Family Affair appearances for Young, and the third and final one for Olivieri.

Continuity Notes

In addition to the Velvet Vultures reference, we get a Scotty shout-out.

Inconsistency Alert

Sharon’s previously revealed apartment number was 12B, but she now seems to live upstairs from the Davis family. Maybe Mr. James moved when he re-married.

Family Affair Friday(ish): Season 2, Episode 28, “The Beasley Story,” 3/25/1968

Written by: Joseph Hoffman. Directed by: Charles Barton.

When we look in on the Davis family this week, Buffy is telling Mrs. Beasley the story of Little Red Riding-Hood.

It's an unsanitized version that ends with the wolf devouring the girl. That sets the tone for this episode, in which Buffy and Jody show an affinity for gore and drama.

It’s an unsanitized version that ends with the wolf devouring the girl. That sets the tone for this episode, in which Buffy and Jody show an affinity for gore and drama.

After the story, the twins argue over Mrs. Beasley’s next move. Jody, apparently still under the influence of last week’s adventure, wants to tell the doll a story about cowboys and Indians. Buffy says Mrs. Beasley is tired and needs to go to bed.

(I always thought Mrs.. Beasley was supposed to represent an older lady, but Buffy treats her like a baby in this scene. Maybe the doll is senile.)

The argument turns into a tug-of-war with a startling conclusion.

Nooooooooo!

Nooooooooo!

Jody runs off to the kitchen to fetch French, who is relieved that the crisis is only a doll injury.

French shows some nice sensitivity in this scene, as he make Mrs. Beasley a tourniquet from his handkerchief to prevent her from going into "shock."

French shows some nice sensitivity, as he make Mrs. Beasley a tourniquet from his handkerchief to prevent her from going into “shock.”

(In this scene, Jody sneezes and French says “Bless you.” It looks unscripted, but I’m not sure.)

Buffy asks French if he can fix the doll, and he admits that he doesn’t know how. Looking at the Mrs. Beasley I own, I’m pretty sure a needle and thread would suffice for this repair. Buffy’s doll has a weird wire sticking out of the arm hole, though. They probably placed it there to make a simple repair look impossible.

French suggests that the kids eat their lunch, but they object.

"How could we eat when Mrs. Beasley's lying here without her arm?" Jody asks.

“How could we eat when Mrs. Beasley’s lying here without her arm?” Jody asks.

French decides that the situation warrants a call to Uncle Bill, although he’s in an important meeting.

The "East Indian gentlemen" in Bill's office get the impression that something is seriously wrong at home.

The “East Indian gentlemen” in Bill’s office get the impression that something is seriously wrong at home.

It’s not that serious, Bill reassures them after hanging up: The kids just pulled Mrs. Beasley’s arm off.

Cue shocked expressions.

Cue shocked expressions.

Informing them that Mrs. Beasley is a doll, Bill cancels his lunch plans with the gentlemen so he can hurry home to Buffy.

On his way out, he feels compelled to offer a brief summary of Mrs. Beasley's importance--death, separation, only friend in the world, yadda, yadda, yadda.

On his way out, he feels compelled to offer a brief summary of Mrs. Beasley’s importance–death, separation, only friend in the world, yadda, yadda, yadda.

The businessmen still look baffled.

At home, the kids have created a sickroom atmosphere around Mrs. Beasley.

At home, the kids have created a sickroom atmosphere around Mrs. Beasley.

In one of the twins’ “stupid moments,” Buffy takes the doll’s temperature and tells Bill that the thermometer reads, “She’s sick.” I’m pretty sure second graders know that thermometers give numerical readings.

Stymied by the situation, French and Bill both leap at ridiculous solutions. French proposes replacing the doll, while Bill wants to call a child psychiatrist.

Stymied by the situation, French and Bill both leap at ridiculous solutions. French proposes replacing the doll, while Bill wants to call a child psychiatrist.

Luckily, Cissy arrives home and injects some sense into the proceedings. She informs the men that doll hospitals exist to repair broken dolls.

So it's a school day, but the twins are at home and Cissy arrives there by lunch time. Those wacky New York City public schools.

So it’s a school day, but the twins are at home and Cissy arrives there by lunch time. Those wacky New York City public schools.

Bill tells a reluctant French to accompany the kids to the doll hospital. It seems strange that, after all the assaults on his dignity since the kids arrived, going to a doll hospital puts French over the edge. Bill urges him to man up, and French finally agrees: “I will swallow my pride and walk through the dolls’ hospital emergency entrance as if it were perfectly natural for an adult Englishman.”

The “doctor” at the facility assures them that it will be a simple operation, taking about 20 minutes.

In response to a question from Jody, he also assures them that Mrs. Beasley won't "bleed a lot."

In response to a question from Jody, he also assures them that Mrs. Beasley won’t “bleed a lot.”

French calls Bill to inform him that the doll has entered surgery.

His East Indian associates have an "only in America" moment when they learn that doll hospitals exist.

His East Indian associates have an “only in America” moment when they learn that doll hospitals exist.

(Doll hospitals aren’t an American innovation, though. This one in Portugal, for example, dates back to 1830.)

Back at the hospital, the minutes drag on as the family waits for word about Mrs. Beasley. At one point, the “nurse” emerges from the operating room and says there has been a slight complication with the “cotter pin.” French tells Jody that the cotter pin must be something like a bone graft. When Jody asks if French has a cotter pin, French replies with a droll, “I think not.”

Another customer enters to drop off his daughter's doll for repair. See, French--real men can visit doll hospitals.

Another customer enters to drop off his daughter’s doll for repair. See, French–real men can visit doll hospitals.

This guy turns out to be a real ass, though. When he learns that the Davis family is waiting through a surgical procedure, he launches into a series of jokes: Are you a relative of the patient? Did you fly in a surgeon from Vienna? What’s your medical plan?

An outraged French tells the man that he's forming a plan to use his "furled umbrella" on him.

An outraged French tells the man that he’s forming a plan to use his “furled umbrella” on him.

He tells the man that the whole family is concerned, and it’s not the time or place for levity, before dismissing him with a hearty, “Good day, sir!”

Go, French! In a sweet moment, Buffy shows her appreciation by giving him a quick kiss.

Go, French! In a sweet moment, Buffy shows her appreciation by giving him a quick kiss.

Finally, Mrs. Beasley emerges after a successful surgery. Back at home, the kids play hospital with her. This being the ’60s, Jody is the doctor and Buffy is the nurse, of course.

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Bill brings home flowers for the patient, although the kids prefer the chocolates Cissy provided.

In fact, the kids use Mrs. Beasley’s “cuperation” to scam for treats throughout the evening. They get Cissy to bring them strawberry pop and French to provide ice cream. They even try to convince him that Mrs. Beasley needs chocolate chip cookies and brownies for her dinner.

Bill tells them that modern doctors like to see patients back on their feet soon after surgery. The kids still insist that Mrs. Beasley still needs special treatment.

Now, Bill and French could handle this situation by letting Buffy play this game until they tire of it–not even a whole day has passed since the accident, after all! They could also refuse to provide any more treats. But Bill decides the situation calls for a technique his father invented–the “lollipop method.” It seems that when Bill’s father took his younger brother’s ratty security blanket away, he gave him a football to sleep with instead. The idea, Bill says, is that you never take something away from a kid without giving them something in return, even if it’s just a lollipop.

And people say today's parents are indulgent!

And people say today’s parents are indulgent!

Bill announces to the twins that he would like to take them to an amusement park the next day. He can’t, though, since Mrs. Beasley is so sick.

Of course, the kids quickly respond that the doll is just fine and totally up for an amusement park visit.

Of course, the kids quickly respond that the doll is just fine and totally up for an amusement park visit.

Taking a beloved doll to amusement park? I think the Davises might become regular doll hospital customers.

Commentary

I always love a Mrs. Beasley episode, and this one is enjoyable through the doll hospital scene. The rest of it is rather anticlimactic and silly. French’s lines, as usual, mark the episode’s high points. I always wonder if someone on the production staff specialized in creating those because they’re consistently delicious, no matter who’s writing the episode.

Buffy seems less horrified than one would expect immediately after the accident. I suppose we could fall back on the explanation that she shuts down emotionally at times of crisis.

At the very least, this episode expands our vocabulary about mechanical engineering devices–we hear about cotter pins and (in Bill’s work conversation) about trunnion pins.

Guest Cast

Foster: Ivan Bonar. East Indian: Naji Gabbay. Mr. Green: Tim Graham. Mrs. Green: Natalie Masters. East Indian: Aly Wassil.

Gabbay and Wassil are Family Affair veterans. Bonar had a long stint on General Hospital in the 1960s and ’70s, playing a character called Chase Murdock. Masters popped up on Dragnet and Adam-12 occasionally, while Green made the rounds of TV westerns.